How REALTORS® serve their clients has not been substantively changed by the agreement reached between the Canadian Real Estate Association and the Competition Bureau, according to WinnipegREALTORS® president Claude Davis.
“Essentially, most consumers want a REALTOR® to help them in their home buying and selling decisions,” said Davis.
“There is a lot more to a real estate transaction than just putting a listing on MLS®,” he added.
The Competition Bureau and CREA agreed to association rule changes that will allow a Canadian consumer to choose what services they want from a real estate agent, including a REALTOR® only placing a listing on MLS® on their behalf.
The changes came after the Competition Bureau Commissioner, Melanie Aitken, placed a challenge in February before the Competition Tribunal that alleged anti-competitive rules were imposed by organized real estate, which she claimed, failed to offer consumers choices when buying or selling a home.
CREA disagreed with the commissioner’s challenge, saying REALTORS® already offer competitive services and various business models, including commission fees that are negotiable, but decided to seek an agreement through negotiations to clarify the association’s rules to address the bureau’s concerns.
By reaching a consent agreement that was approved by the CREA membership across Canada and accepted by the commissioner, the case before the tribunal has been withdrawn. The next step is for a consent agreement to be filed with the Competition Tribunal and then officially registered as legally binding.
“This 10-year agreement brings to a close a long process of negotiation with the Competition Bureau and will allow CREA and REALTORS® to do what they do best — help people with the biggest financial decision of their lives,” said CREA president Georges Pahud, “buying and selling a home in these challenging economic times.”
“As REALTORS®, we will have to continue to prove to our clients — as we have in the past — that what we offer is good advice, experience and knowledge of the housing market within an industry that includes MLS®,” said Davis.
“What most consumers want to pay for is the assistance of a professional,” he added.“Clients have indicated to me that they seek out a professional REALTOR® to come up with competitive pricing on a home, how to prepare a home for sale, holding open houses, and dealing with closing negotiations.”
Aitken said she was pleased the CREA members voted in favour of the agreement.
“This resolution is welcome news for both consumers and real estate agents in Canada,” she added.
“For Canadian homeowners, it ensures that they will have the freedom to choose which services they want from a real estate agent and to pay for only those services.
“For real estate agents, it ensures that they will be able to offer the variety of services and prices that meet the needs of consumers.”